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Advances in Care of Children

with Hemophilia
Marilyn J. Manco-Johnson, M.D.,1,2 Brenda Riske, M.S., M.B.A., M.P.A.,2 and
Carol K. Kasper, M.D.3


Care for children with severe hemophilia has moved from pediatric hospital wards
and rehabilitation services to the home, school, and community. Advances in hemophilia
are due largely to the development of specialized hemophilia treatment centers, which
created a system of comprehensive care and focused healthcare efforts on prevention and
education. Parallel advances in coagulation resulted in identification of clotting factors
VIII and IX, elucidation of the protein molecular and biochemical structures and functions, sequencing of their respective genes and transfer of the human genes for production
of proteins by recombinant technology, and development of gene therapy. The tragedy of
the human immunodeficiency virus and hepatitis C raised awareness in patients as well as
healthcare providers of the vulnerability of blood products to viral contamination and
spurred progress in science leading to viral inactivation of purified proteins. Concomitantly, physicians treating bleeding episodes in the clinic investigated pharmacokinetics
and pharmacoeconomics of various strategies of clotting factor replacement. The observation that trough factor levels as low as 1 to 2% were adequate to prevent most bleeding
episodes led to current prophylactic regimens that allow boys to participate fully in school
and community activities while factor concentrate is infused at home on a regular schedule. Currently, children with hemophilia look forward to a normal life expectancy and excellent health-related quality of life. Physician and community partnerships through research and advocacy societies have accelerated clinical advancements as well as extension
of treatment to developing countries. The future of hemophilia promises a cure with gene
therapy. Given the past accomplishments in hemophilia, a long-term solution to replacement of the genetically deficient protein lies on the horizon.
KEYWORDS: Hemophilia, treatment, factor concentrates, blood products, bleeding

Objectives: On completion of this article, the reader should be able to (1) list the main contributions that led to improved life expectancy of patients with hemophilia and (2) state which accomplishments led to a reduction of joint bleedings in hemophiliacs.
Accreditation: Tufts University School of Medicine (TUSM) is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. TUSM takes responsibility for the content, quality, and scientific integrity of this CME activity.
Credit: TUSM designates this educational activity for a maximum of 1 Category 1 credit toward the AMA Physicians Recognition
Award. Each physician should claim only those credits that he/she actually spent in the educational activity.

Pediatric Thrombosis and Hemostasis: Maureen Andrew Memorial Issue, Part 2; Editor in Chief, Eberhard F. Mammen, M.D.; Guest Editors,
Lesley Mitchell, M.Sc., and Shigenori Suzuki, M.D. Seminars in Thrombosis and Hemostasis, volume 29, number 6, 2003. Address for
correspondence: Marilyn J. Manco-Johnson, M.D., Mountain States Regional Hemophilia and Thrombosis Center, P.O. Box 6507, Mail Stop F416, Aurora, CO 800450507. E-mail: 1Professor of Pediatrics; Director, 2Mountain States Regional
Hemophilia and Thrombosis Center, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and The Childrens Hospital, Denver, Colorado;
3Orthopedic Hospital, Los Angeles, California. Copyright 2003 by Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc., 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY
10001, USA. Tel: +1(212) 584-4662. 0094-6176,p;2003,29,06,585,594,ftx,en;sth00923x.




he care of children with hemophilia has improved immensely over the last 40 years, from an era in
which children with hemophilia rarely were expected to
survive beyond the first decade to the present state in
which babies currently born with severe hemophilia can
be expected to have a normal life span, participate fully
in school and the workplace, and receive treatment in
the home with minimal disruption to personal and family life. Hope for a significant modification of hemophilia through gene therapy still looms as a promise, although lasting gene transfer has yet to be demonstrated
in humans with hemophilia. The tremendous evolution
in prognosis of severe hemophilia from a chronic crippling and often fatal condition to one for which parents
can anticipate a fairly normal quality of life occurred
through parallel improvements in several aspects of hemophilia care over the last four decades. A few advances
originated in dramatic scientific discoveries, but the majority resulted from basic and practical incremental improvements in care contributed by a large number of
dedicated hemophilia treaters world-wide. This paper
reviews the major achievements.


The hemophilias are X-linked genetic bleeding disorders caused by deficiencies of coagulation factor VIII
(FVIII) and factor IX (FIX). The history of early medical progress in understanding and treating hemophilia
was published in a classic review by Rosemary Biggs in
1967.1 In 1937, Carroll Birch2 chronicled the clinical
course in 98 living patients with hemophilia and reviewed
records of other family members. Table 1 lists the cause
of death in 113 persons with hemophilia reported by
Birch2 and serves as a stark testimony to the fatal nature
of trivial lacerations, epistaxis, circumcision, and tooth
extraction prior to factor replacement therapy. Macfarlane realized in the 1930s that treatment of hemophilia
would not be achieved until the physiology of normal
clotting and hemostasis were determined. In 1934, Macfarlane and Barnett reported that only transfusion of
whole blood, and not any local therapies, showed efficacy in cessation of hemophilic bleeding.3 Macfarlane4
hypothesized in his seminal 1938 article that a clotting
factor necessary to activate prothrombin was missing in
persons with hemophilia, and identification of this factor would be necessary to understand and ultimately treat
hemorrhage in persons with hemophilia. Until 1952, it
was believed that tissue-derived thromboplastin directly
activated prothrombin. In 1953, this group discovered a
plasma thromboplastin activity formed in normal
blood and defective in the plasma of persons with hemophilia.5,6 They went on to develop coagulation assays
that differentiated plasmas deficient in FVIII from those
deficient in FIX, and the stage was set for the development of specific therapies.7 The subsequent discovery of

Table 1 Cause of Death for 113 Patients

with Hemophilia2
Cause of Death


Tooth extraction
Lanced hematomas
Trivial injuries
(cut lip, bitten tongue, injuries to forehead,
finger, scalp, etc.)
Internal bleeding
Central nervous system bleeding
Birth trauma and umbilical bleeding
Lung hemorrhage
Throat bleeding
Intestinal bleeding
Gastric bleeding
Cutting first tooth
Fracture of leg




Data from Birch.2

a large number of proteins involved in coagulation led

to development of the International Committee for the
Nomenclature of Blood Clotting Factors, which was later
renamed The International Committee for Haemostasis
and Thrombosis, now The International Society for
Thrombosis and Haemostasis (ISTH), including the
Scientific Standardization Committees.
Rapid advances in the field of coagulation progressed from the identification, isolation, and biochemical characterization of factors VIII and IX8,9 to identification and sequencing of their respective genes10,11;
understanding coagulation protein structure, function,
and interactions at the molecular level12,13; and development of dynamic integrated theoretic models of thrombin generation and regulation.13 Functional assays of factors VIII and IX allowed prediction of bleeding risk and
provided the rationale for structured treatment protocols
to manage acute bleeding events and prevent surgical
bleeding. New laboratory techniques to assess global
thrombin generation potential helped to explain clinical
differences among hemophilia patients and allow for
therapies tailored to individual hemostatic potential.13

In 1958, in an attempt to organize experience and services for persons with hemophilia, Biggs and Macfarlane14
reviewed records of 187 hemophilia patients who received



specialized services at Oxford. Observations of these 187

patients led to several sentinel findings regarding the natural history of hemophilia, including the classification of
hemophilia severity based on levels, with mild symptoms
observed in most patients with more than 5% of FVIII
and very mild disease noted in many hemophilia B patients with 1% or more FIX. In addition, it was noted that
hemophilia A patients with 1 or 2% FVIII activity exhibited far fewer bleeding episodes in comparison with
patients who had no detectable FVIII. Macfarlane and
Biggs14 noted that it required far higher levels of factor
activity to prevent surgical bleeding than to prevent spontaneous hemorrhages, an observation that laid the groundwork for rational design of factor replacement recommendations and suggested a role for prophylaxis. With
experience, the Oxford group developed standardized
approaches to various types of bleeding in hemophilia
patients. At this time local hospitals often cared for hemophilia patients with routine hemorrhages and referred
only the most difficult cases to Oxford. Biggs and Macfarlane14 described the case of a young man with protracted complications following surgery for trauma whose
care consumed the time of 9 physicians, 5 of whom spent
most of their time with him during a 3-month hospitalization, in addition to constant services of nurses, physiotherapists, and laboratory personnel. Biggs and Macfarlane15 suggested that treatment of this patient in a
specialized center such as Oxford would have consumed
a small part of one hematologists time with fewer complications and a better outcome. In addition, they stressed
collaboration among hematologists, surgeons, physiotherapists, and laboratory personnel was key to improved
clinical outcomes. Thus, the rationale was presented for
the development of specialized centers to deliver hemophilia comprehensive care. The same year Carol Kasper
et al16 reported the first US multidisciplinary center serving more than 500 patients with hemophilia. The concept of hemophilia comprehensive care spread and 10
years later, reports were published on the benefits of organized comprehensive care clinics for hemophilia from
Italy, the United Kingdom, France, the United States,
and Asia.1721
In 1975, the US Congress appropriated money
for the creation of a national network of Hemophilia
Diagnostic and Treatment Centers by Section 1131 of
the Public Health Service Act.22 The first centers were
established the next year. The system was expanded gradually to the current 135 federally funded hemophilia treatment centers. Similar national programs were developed
in Canada and several European countries. The initial
charge to the treatment centers was to establish and maintain high-quality reference coagulation laboratories with
validated assays to identify accurately persons with the
hemophilias and other congenital bleeding disorders.
Comprehensive clinic programs staffed by a team of specialists were developed to provide comprehensive evaluation and generate an integrated treatment plan.20 The

central figure in the hemophilia treatment center was

the nurse coordinator, who was responsible to provide
education about hemophilia to the patient, the family,
teachers, employers, and healthcare providers in the community.23 In addition to nurse coordinators, the original
multidisciplinary hemophilia center teams included hematologists, pediatricians, internists, geneticists, dentists,
physical therapists, orthopedic surgeons, social workers,
and psychiatrists to deal with the protean issues surrounding hemophilia.1,16,20 Hemophilia care advanced
significantly when all patient calls were funneled to one
nurse specialist who expedited clinic visits for bleed assessment, facilitated prompt outpatient factor replacement therapy, and ultimately taught and monitored home
infusion therapy. The majority of persons with severe
hemophilia rapidly enrolled in the US federal hemophilia
system and within 5 years of their inception, Smith,
Levine, and others were able to document that comprehensive hemophilia treatment centers dramatically reduced cost, hospitalizations, and absenteeism from work
and school.24,25 By 1984, the World Federation of
Hemophilia determined international standards for hemophilia centers.26 More recently, the US Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funded a surveillance project and confirmed reduced mortality and
morbidity for persons with hemophilia who access federally funded hemophilia treatment centers.27 The role
played by the hemophilia comprehensive care centers in
the improvement in hemophilia outcome cannot be


Early observations linked prompt treatment with faster,
more effective control of hemorrhage. Shortly after cryoprecipitate became available, families requested support
to institute replacement therapy in the home. A home
program including 14 patients with FVIII deficiency was
reported from Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago in
1970.28 Home therapy was quickly adopted in countries
with access to replacement therapies.2931 Of interest,
hemophilia patients using self-treatment at home were
noted to use a higher FVIII dose, based on perceived efficacy.31 International recommendations endorsing home
therapy were published in 1979.32 Home therapy avoids
time delay and expense associated with emergency room
visits, allows treatment in a comfortable environment,
and continues as a keystone in hemophilia therapy. In
2001, the US CDC Surveillance Project reported that
home therapy and hemophilia comprehensive care centers were each independently associated with a reduced
rate of hospitalization for bleeding episodes.33
The goal of home therapy for young children
with hemophilia is to facilitate prevention or early treatment of bleeding events in hopes of preventing target
joint disease. Venous access is often problematic in chil-




dren below the age of 4 or 5 years. Placement of indwelling central venous access devices (CVADs) has
made primary prophylaxis available to many children who
live far away from treatment centers. CVADs carry potential morbidities of infection, mechanical malfunction,
and large vessel thrombosis. Short-term observations of
single centers (median, 30 months) yielded low infection rates of 0.14 and 0.19 per 1000 catheter days in
contrast to a national US nursing survey that found infection in 45% of 568 CVADs.3436 Infection within the
port is more common than systemic bacteremia.37 All
studies have found a higher rate of infection in CVADs
used to induce immune tolerance of inhibitors.38 Symptomatic thromboses appear to be rare.39 Despite complications, CVADs have greatly increased therapeutic
options for very young children with hemophilia while
decreasing cost and stress.


The development of safe, effective coagulation proteins
for replacement therapy has been paramount in the advancement of hemophilia care. The history of plasma
product safety has been reviewed recently.40 The transmission of viral pathogens to children with hemophilia
through blood products caused untold pain and suffering in the hemophilia community and substantially delayed implementation of preventive strategies including
prophylaxis and immune tolerance (see the following sections). However, remarkable advances came even from
the tragedy of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in
the form of basic scientific discoveries in virology and
immunology as well as application of the hemophilia
comprehensive care system to creation of comprehensive
pediatric HIV programs. Emerging knowledge regarding hepatitis transmission through blood products stimulated the development of rational approaches to prospective safety studies of new products through the ISTH
Subcommittee for factors VIII and IX.41
Early attempts to develop concentrates of antihemophilic globulin from animal and human plasmas
were initiated in the United Kingdom, France, and Sweden. However, the 1965 description by Judith Graham
Pool et al42,43 of a FVIII concentrate made using cryoprecipitation in a procedure easily adaptable to most blood
banks led to immediate large-scale clinical application of
FVIII replacement therapy to hemophilia A. Concentration of FIX in prothrombin complex concentrates was
described the same year.44 Routine treatment of joint
and muscle bleeds became widespread shortly thereafter.
However, the emergence of viral transmission through
blood products, in the form on hepatitis B as well as
non-A, non-B hepatitis was recognized soon after widespread application of human plasma products for infusion.45,46 It was observed that the risk of hepatitis was
greater with the use of pooled in comparison to single-

donor products.46 The US National Institutes of Health

convened a consensus conference to discuss the prevalence and potential consequences of non-A, non-B hepatitis in 1975.47 Hepatitis C was later identified as the
offending viral agent in most transfusion-associated hepatitis, and most hemophilia patients who had been exposed to blood products manifested positive serologic
evidence of hepatitis C infection.48 Heat treatment of
factor concentrates was the first effective viral attenuation
procedure, inactivating several logs of lipid-encapsulated
viruses, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
and hepatitis B and C.49 Isolation of FVIII by affinity
chromatography employing monoclonal antibodies provided the next significant advancement in blood product
purity and safety in 1989.50 Hepatitis A and Parvovirus
B19, lacking a lipid capsule, were more difficult to inactivate using heat and solvent detergent.51,52 The application of several procedures including donor screening
and donor unit testing for viral antibody, antigen, and
nucleic acids, in addition to improved viral inactivation,
have increased the safety of products derived from human
blood.53,54 Still, fears of emerging infections such as West
Nile virus (which has been determined to be transmissible through blood transfusions) and variant CreutzfeldtJacob disease (which has not been determined to be transmissible through blood transfusions) continue to exert
pressure for the development of alternative treatment
products to human blood-derived proteins.55,56
The FVIII gene was first sequenced in 1984.8 Factor VIII produced in cell culture by recombinant technology was first applied to human trials in 1989.57 Two
full-length recombinant FVIII molecules are available
commercially with excellent performance for clinical efficacy and safety.57 More recently, a -domain-deleted
FVIII (BDD FVIII) has allowed more efficient yield
from tissue culture systems and has contributed to an
increased availability of FVIII.58 BDD FVIII is clinically comparable to the full-length recombinant molecule.58,59 However, assay of BDD FVIII by clotting activity yields results approximately 50% compared with
the full-length molecule; this phenomenon is related to
the phospholipids in the assay.60 Using a chromogenic
assay, function of BDD FVIII and the native molecule
are comparable. There is one recombinant FIX molecule.61 Recombinant FIX lacks phosphorylation at serine
158, has decreased tyrosine sulfation, and has a variably
decreased peak plasma concentration following injection
(known as plasma recovery) as compared with plasmaderived FIX.61 Still, the hazards of emerging infectious
risks, such as prions, that could contaminate plasma or
recombinant clotting proteins has driven a demand for
recombinant proteins completely devoid of human proteins.62 Currently, third-generation recombinant FVIII
molecules are being developed with no human proteins
either in the cell culture or in final stabilization of the
lyophilized recombinant protein. To date, tens of million units of recombinant FVIII and IX have been in-


fused worldwide with no evidence of HIV or hepatitis

C transmission.53,57 Recombinant clotting factor concentrates have increased the world supply of hemophilia
treatment products and, owing to their excellent safety
profile, have fostered more liberal application of preventive treatment protocols for young children and reconstructive surgeries for adults. To date, however, recombinant FVIII molecules have not fulfilled physician and
patient expectations of unlimited factor quantity at a
price affordable for widespread use in many countries.


In addition to specific factor concentrates, the development of a small number of other therapies has contributed enormous benefit for prevention or treatment
of bleeding episodes in persons with hemophilia. The
efficacy of the fibrinolytic inhibitor epsilon-aminocaproic
acid in dental extractions was first reported from the
Cardeza Foundation in Philadelphia in 1964.63 Epsilonaminocaproic acid is still a mainstay for adjuvant therapy of mucus membrane bleeding including mouth and
gum bleeding and menorrhagia. A controlled trial of the
fibrinolytic inhibitor tranexamic acid was reported in
1973.64 Tranexamic acid causes less gastrointestinal distress as compared with epsilon-aminocaproic acid and is
equally effective. 1-Deamino-8-D-arginine vasopressin
(DDAVP), a synthetic vasopressin, was found to increase
plasma levels of FVIII and von Willebrand factor in patients with mild hemophilia A and von Willebrand disease.65 This nonblood-product therapy can be used for
either prevention or treatment of bleeding in individuals
with an adequate response. Seizures secondary to hyponatremia have been reported, especially in infants; accordingly, DDAVP is not recommended for children
younger than the age of 2 years.66 Activated recombinant FVII (rFVIIa) was first successfully employed to
control hemostasis in a hemophilia patient with inhibitory
antibodies in 1991.67 rFVIIa has been demonstrated to
bypass factors VIII and IX in the activation of FX on
the platelet surface in the absence of tissue factor, and in
addition, may aid tissue factor-mediated generation of
activated FX.68 rFVIIa has become a first-line therapy
for bleeding in children with inhibitors.69 Finally, a local
hemostatic agent concocted from a combination of proteins including fibrinogen, thrombin, FXIII, and aprotinin was developed in Israel as a topical agent to promote hemostasis.70 Fibrin glue is particularly useful in
oral bleeding.

The most costly and prevalent complication in persons
with severe hemophilia is progressive degenerative arthritis following recurrent episodes of hemorrhage into joints.
Hemophilic arthropathy results in debilitating chronic
pain, decreased range of motion of joints, and functional

impairment. Prophylaxis in hemophilia refers to a treatment strategy of infusing factor concentrate preventively, prior to the onset of bleeding. Prophylaxis using
lyophilized plasma was first given to halt intractable
bleeding events by John Johnson at Howard University
in 1942.71 Limitations in the quantity and safety of factor concentrate limited preventive therapy for at least
two decades. During the 1960s, early reports of prophylaxis were published from Sweden, Canada, the United
States, and The Netherlands.7275 Clinical trials to determine optimal dose and dose frequency were conducted in the late 1960s and early 1970s primarily in
patients with a long history of joint hemorrhage.7379 A
single case study of Shanbrom and Thelin74 reported
the response of 100% FVIII correction given daily, five
times a week, three times a week, and weekly, and
showed a minimal effective dose of 50 U/kg given
weekly. The US National Institutes of Health published
pharmacokinetic data on FVIII prophylaxis and related
clinical cessation of bleeding events to a trough FVIII
level of 2%, achieved giving 60% correction every 36
hours.76 Incremental effects of increasing prophylactic
dosing were shown by Kasper et al77 and demonstrated
optimal efficacy using daily dosing with 50% reduction
of bleed frequency using 250 U of FVIII per day and
75% reduction with 500 U/day. The effect of higher
doses was limited to 3 or 4 days. A double-blind, placebocontrolled crossover trial performed by Aronstam et al78
in children with hemophilia given 25% FVIII correction
once weekly showed reduced frequency of bleeding by
15% overall, with most of the effect in the first 3 days.
The same authors showed that 30% correction twice a
week was superior to 15%, with most of the effect in the
first 48 hours.79 Although availability and safety of factor concentrates limited broad application of prophylaxis
to children, Inga Marie Nilsson80 continued to pioneer
regular infusions of FVIII to prevent joint bleeding in
young Swedish children with hemophilia. In observational studies, Nilsson et al81 were able to demonstrate
physical and radiologic evidence of improved joint outcome in children treated with early prophylactic regimens. Initiation of prophylaxis after the onset of joint
changes was determined to improve physical functioning
and pain, but did not reverse or halt progressive arthritic
changes.82 However, the cost and effort of factor infusion three to four times weekly is enormous and longterm compliance is a significant issue.83 Less intensive
preventive strategies had not been well-studied in
young children with healthy joints.
Currently, there is an ongoing US prospective,
randomized clinical trial of every other day prophylaxis
versus an intensified episode-based therapy in 65 young
children < 2.5 years of age with FVIII  2% that will
compare joint outcome using very sensitive magnetic
resonance imaging (MRI) and a physical evaluation tool
specifically developed for young children.84 The US
prophylaxis study will be completed in 2005. A recently




completed single-arm trial of escalating prophylaxis in

young children has been conducted in Canada and will
be analyzed shortly.84 The rationale of dose-escalation
in prophylaxis is to decrease the cost of factor and limit
the need for CVADs by treating children with less frequent infusions of factor replacement based on clinically
evident bleeding rate. There is no doubt that prevention
of bleeding episodes, overall, conveys a better outcome
for hemophilic arthropathy as well as life-threatening
bleeding events, such as intracranial hemorrhage. Likewise, the widespread use of CVADs has fostered earlier
home therapy and more effective treatment of acute
bleeding events in addition to prophylactic infusions.
Clinical trials such as the US and Canadian studies described will refine prophylaxis and determine optimal
dose, dose frequency, and age of initiation to achieve the
best outcome with the least morbidity and cost.

One of the most significant morbidities of hemophilia
therapy is the development of inhibitors.85 Inhibitors are
immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies (most frequently
subclass IgG4) that bind to specific FVIII epitopes, primarily active sites in the A2 and C2 regions of the molecule.86,87 Inhibitory antibodies cause irreversible inactivation of FVIII, limiting the usefulness of replacement
factor therapy. Inhibitor titer is determined in the
Bethesda assay in which serial dilutions of patient plasma
are incubated with an equal volume of pooled normal
plasma for 2 hours at 37C.88 The titer is defined as the
plasma dilution that inactivates 50% of the FVIII in
normal plasma and expressed in Bethesda units (BU).
High-titer inhibitors are variously defined as those higher
than 5 or 10 BU. Inhibitor formation always follows exposure to exogenous FVIII. In prospective studies of
young children given recombinant FVIII, the incidence
of inhibitors was approximately 30%, with half being high
titer; the median time to development of an inhibitor
was 9 exposure days to recombinant FVIII, with most
inhibitors presenting within 50 exposure days.57
The predisposition to inhibitor formation is determined partly by the nature of the gene mutation and
partly by the immune constitution of the patient.8993
The risk of inhibitor development is increased in patients with large deletions, the intron 22 inversion, and
nonsense mutations, and decreased in patients with missense mutations and small deletions. In addition, the
immune response elicited by FVIII is a mixed Th1 and
Th2 response. Inhibitor formation may be modulated
by blockade of costimulatory molecules important in
optimal T-cell activation.93
Persons with inhibitors cannot be treated optimally
for bleeding events. As a consequence, they suffer more
severe and extensive hemophilic arthropathies, recurrent
intracranial hemorrhages, and other bleeding complications. The cost of care is significantly increased and

quality of life is markedly diminished.94 Nilsson95,96 reported regimens using a combination of factor and cytoxan to suppress the inhibitory response to FIX and
FVIII in 1973 and 1974, respectively. After many modifications of the original therapy, Nilsson et al97 published
the Malm regimen for immune tolerance induction employing FVIII exposure (100 U/kg/day) with monthly
courses of cytoxan and intravenous immune globulin
(IVIG) in 1988. A German immune tolerance regimen
dubbed the Bonn protocol, first reported in 1976, employed higher doses of FVIII (100 U/kg bid) without
immunosuppressive therapy and showed similar efficacy.98
A Dutch adaptation was shown to achieve tolerance with
as little FVIII as 50 U/kg three times weekly.99 A recent
retrospective review of immune tolerance suggests that
up to 90% of young children with high-titer inhibitors
can achieve tolerance.100 Doses of 100 U/kg/day or
higher, and initiation within a year of inhibitor onset,
predicted successful tolerance induction. However, there
are many unanswered questions including the optimal
dose schedule, treatment product, and window of therapeutic efficacy following diagnosis of an inhibitor. Currently, an international study is ongoing to determine
relative benefits and costs of high-dose versus low-dose
immune tolerance.101


Despite the greater availability of safe, effective factor
concentrate for treatment and prevention of acute bleeding episodes, persons with severe hemophilia continue
to develop synovitis and arthropathy.102 Local therapies
targeted to the affected joint are indicated for children
with mild hemophilia, children in whom most bleeding
events are localized to one joint, and in areas of the world
where prophylaxis is not available or affordable. Intraarticular injections of P32, termed radiosynoviorthesis,
were first applied to persons with rheumatoid arthritis.103
P32 radiosynoviorthesis has been applied to children and
adolescents with hemophilia. Radiosynoviorthesis in children, particularly with early synovitis, is effective in
long-term reduction in bleeding rate.104 The procedure
is effective, well tolerated even by children as young as
4 or 5 years, inexpensive, and appears to be safe.104,105
Radiosynoviorthesis should not be considered an equal
alternative to prophylaxis in children with recurrent hemorrhages into multiple joints. However, radiosynoviorthesis has been so successful that it is being recommended as a first approach to local therapy of hemophilic
arthropathy in many hemophilia centers.
Synovitis has also been treated with surgical removal of synovium. Early synovectomies were performed
in open joint procedures. Open surgical synovectomy is
effective in decreasing the rate of joint hemorrhage,106
but is expensive, requires protracted physical therapy
and factor replacement, and is accompanied by a high


rate of decreased joint range of motion and functional

gait abnormalities. Arthroscopic synovectomy appears
to have less damaging effects on range of motion and
gait.107 Arthroscopic synovectomy is limited technically
by the small size of the joint in young children, particularly the elbow and the ankle; results are dependent on
the skill and experience of the surgeon.


During the last decade extensive work has been performed by the World Federation of Hemophilia to develop hemophilia programs for children throughout the
world.108 Success has been achieved by twinning programs that link personnel from established hemophilia
centers with interested physicians and other healthcare
personnel in developing countries, in addition to linkages with national healthcare initiatives to organize basic
healthcare elements required for comprehensive hemophilia care.108 Despite the obstacle created by the high
cost of safe replacement factor concentrates, remarkable
progress has been made in several countries throughout
the world in development of safer national blood supplies, and the extension of safe, manufactured factor concentrates to more countries.109111 The greatest achievement may be that, through the efforts of the World
Federation of Hemophilia, hemophilia healthcare personnel throughout the world have embraced the principle that we must work globally, and not just locally, for
improvement in hemophilia care and outcomes.


As demonstrated in this article, many if not most seminal
observations regarding the nature and therapy of hemophilia were made long ago. However, the development of
evidence-based medicine was hampered by small numbers of patients at any one treatment center. The last decade has seen progress in the development of clinical trials
brought about by increased collaborations through newly
developed organizations such as the Hemophilia and
Thrombosis Research Society, an embrace of hemophilia
research through established organizations such as the
International Society for Thrombosis and Haemostasis,
and economic support through government funding.
Through these combined efforts national and multinational randomized clinical trials on prophylaxis, immune
tolerance, and novel therapies have been developed.


No discussion of advances in care of children with hemophilia could be complete without inclusion of milestones
in the development of gene therapy. The five gene ther-

apy trials that have enrolled subjects with hemophilia

have been reviewed recently.112 Exciting progress has been
made. Long-term expression of the transgene product
has been demonstrated in dogs and safety of gene therapy has been demonstrated in human adults. To date,
however, gene therapy is not a therapeutic option for
children with hemophilia. Children with other disorders
have experienced adverse outcomes following gene therapy. An adolescent with a metabolic liver disease developed liver failure following receipt of a hepatic-directed
adenoviral vector and two children have developed leukemia following gene therapy for severe combined immunodeficiency. Despite these setbacks, enthusiasm for
the cure of hemophilia persists and will ultimately be

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